Can You Sell 3D Printed Items? Is It Legal?!


Selling 3D printed items has in the past few years proved to be an uprising opportunity. A successful sale of 3D printed items involves identifying your market, enhancing your 3D printing skills, and setting up a price range that takes into account the effort, material, and time involved in producing your 3D printed products.  You should also be well conversant with the legal policies that govern the act of selling 3D printed items.

If you consider investing in using your 3D printer, then just owning a 3D printer is no longer enough. Now that many people are capable of buying 3D printers, the global market for investing in 3D printed items is nearing saturation. What does this mean? You need to stand out, moving in with more innovative or creative products.

One key thing that most investors in 3D printing technology tend to ignore is the likely consequences of selling 3D printed items based on copyrighted properties. The fact that many people buy their way with it doesn’t mean that you will stand lucky. To be on the safe side, it is advisable that you steer clear of selling any 3D item that potentially violates intellectual property and copyright laws.  

There are undoubtedly opportunities to earn from selling 3D printed products. However, there are also many 3D printed products that hardly get noticed out there in the global market. What can you do to ensure your 3D printing venture is a success? Let us have a look at some of the key aspects you need to consider.

3D Printing Is Here To Stay

Identify Your Market

Before you even decide on purchasing any 3D printing equipment, you first need to come up with an idea. You need to come up with 3D printed items that will benefit most people or appeal to many people. You also need to ask yourself if the idea addresses fundamental issues that your target market commonly encounters and frequently revisit your assumptions.   

For example, one of the largest markets for 3D printed items is pop culture fans. Are you aware of any nice cultural reference with a passionate and dedicated fan base? Most businesspeople in the 3D printing industry who have been successful in selling 3D printed products can frequently generate new ideas. (Source)

However, Trends, by their very nature, are always temporary. Even the most innovative idea will lose its uniqueness the moment more people replicate it.

If there exists a single factor that will drive your success within the 3D printing market, then it will be how creative you are in this industry

You must be in a position to generate new ideas continuously, lest you slowly lose the market.  You should keep in mind that not all your ideas will generate huge sales. Among your list of many 3D printed items ideas, you will be lucky to make a profit from perhaps only two or three ideas.

Make Your Own 3D Printable Model or Download It for Commercial Use?

One key hurdle that makes 3D printing technology more challenging is the fact that it is significantly harder to develop 3D modeling skills. In case you have already acquired 3D modeling skills, then you are advantaged-developing your own new model would be much easier.

In case you have no experience, you don’t need to worry. Learning 3D modeling today is much easier. Platforms such as TinkerCAD ad Sketchup are freely available and user-friendly to beginners. These platforms also have enough tools to help develop simple but efficient 3D models. These two platforms are browser-based; hence, you don’t even require downloading anything.

For more advanced users, applications like ZBrush and Blender provide a more advanced suite of tools and provide a greater level of design freedom. You can also opt to simply download an existing model for 3D printing. Sites such as Cults 3D, CGTrader, or Thingiverse are great platforms for this strategy. 

You need to note that you cannot use all free-to-download models for 3D prints to be sold commercially. You need to take a keen look at the licenses associated with the model before deciding to sell them. Most of these free models in 3D printing are not meant for sale. In case you are not sure whether a model is valid for sale or not, it is recommended that you get in touch with the author of the model for an agreement on sale where possible.

Is It Illegal to Sell 3D Prints?

It is totally legal and safe to sell your 3D printed items on e-commerce websites such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay. Many people today are making a fair living listing their 3D printed items on different e-commerce platforms.

However, there are various legal issues that encompass the selling of 3D-printed items. Let us go through some of these issues:

It is illegal to sell any 3D printed item that is covered by Intellectual Property Rights without the knowledge of the rights holder. Also, selling a 3D-printed item that purposely duplicates a copyrighted design is illegal, even if you developed the model yourself.

Selling items that violate copyright laws is only a problem when the right holders decide to pursue you. This is the reason why there is a vast range of 3D printed items being sold on various online platforms, that were obviously modeled from popular intellectual properties. For example, Disney possibly does not bother going after all these online sellers who sell busts, shirts, masks, and other accessories that are modeled after Iron Man.

Can I Sell 3D Printed Characters?

To avoid the problems of getting orders to delist your pirated 3D printed items when you start gaining good profits from the item, you simply need to develop your own 3D items that don’t imitate a character or an item from popular culture.

Making 3D printed character models from books or shows is likely a copyright infringement because you will be making a derivative opportunity from someone’s content without their permission. This is likely to be a copyright infringement because you will be doing so for commercial purposes, without compensating the book or showing copyright owners for use of their intellectual property.

It is also likely to be a trademark infringement as well, in case you are using the book’s or show branding, and the branding is a dully registered trademark for a particular product category covering 3D printed models. However, all these depend on your country’s laws and regulations and details concerning your derivative work.

You may also create 3D designs inspired by popular domain designs. No one holds the copyright for characters such as Count Dracula or Santa Claus.

Is Selling 3D Printed Items Worth It?

Yes, selling 3D printed items could be a worthy investment. There is a vast range of ways that you can do this including but not limited to selling digital designs, selling 3D printed items, or offering 3D printing services within your local area.

Using your creative thinking, you can use your 3D printer to print 3D items, from low-cost prototypes of parts to flower pots. However, making money through selling 3D printed items is still not a walk in the park. You still have to work smart and extra hard to emerge successful in a 3D printing venture. 

For more on this, we also highly recommend that you check out our post titled ” How Much To Charge For 3D Printing? Factors & Potential Business Ideas Listed

sherifjallad

I am a very well experienced techie civil engineer who's extensively interested in 3D printing technology and even more captivated by the potential of 3D printing livable structures

Recent Posts